Monday, April 29, 2019

Welcome Karen!

Karen Tran
Apr 29th, 2019
I am a pre-medical student who just finished my Biology B.S. at UCLA in Winter 19. Usually at this point, I will start packing for my annual medical mission trip oversea with my surgical team. And since I don’t have to attend school for awhile, I anticipated to stay overseas for a few months at least. But I took EEB100 class in my last quarter and it changed my mind. Half of this course covers introduction to animal behavior. I’ve always been a fan of Biology, but studying about animals doing their things in nature took the “fun” to a whole new level. Long story short, I fell in love with Dan’s 2009 paper about his marmots (“A test of the multi-predator hypothesis: yellow-bellied marmots respond fearfully to the sight of novel and extinct predators”- highly recommended for those who haven’t seen it, super fun to read!) and got in touch with him to get a “free ride” to Crested Butte, Colorado to see these adorable creatures for myself!
The day we hiked in was sunny. I eagerly took out my ski and boots, put on my super heavy bag packed with clothes, food, and necessities (that could last me a week at a time at least)…And I couldn’t get my body up. Skiing is fun when you know how to not trip yourself in it (or sliding down the hill involuntarily and break your neck running into the trees below, I guess). I ended up walking for the most part. That day, it took me 4 hours to get to RMBL on foot. I was dead tired from all the walk and the cold…I was extremely hungry and my head hurts trying to acclimate to the elevation. I was, by no means, an athletic person. The most active I’ve ever been was doing cardio exercise for 15 minutes every day when I was at UCLA. Imagine the shock and the muscle soreness and the fatigue I faced that day (and many days after)…I honestly am not sure if I can someday recall that as a fond memory.
It has been almost two weeks since then, I’ve gotten better at skiing and it took less and less time for me to get to the marmot sites every day. I suspect that I’ve become healthier as well since I’ve been outside way too much. The mornings usually weren’t very cold (about 50F-60F), even though it could still snow a lot. It was usually around this time that the snow started melting away and the marmots started to emerge from their hibernacula. Marmots are cute, you have to see them in real life to fully grasp that idea. Dandelion, a male adult marmot for example, was a particularly chubby guy with adorably white-patched face.

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